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tv   Crossfire  CNN  July 17, 2014 3:30pm-4:01pm PDT

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battery of tanks opening fire. there appears to be a lot of other field artillery in that area as well. since we saw some kind of project tile flying from the ground impacting other targets on the ground. and then at certain points in the evening, the fight seemed to shift more towards the northern border between gaza and israel. at 1078 point we saw illumination rounds going up into the air. that is an indication that the israelis were looking for some kind of target on the ground. as ben also mentioned in statements from hamas, they say that resistance fighters are gathering and they're locked in intense ground clashes with the israeli forces as they come in on the ground, wolf. >> guys, be careful over there. i'm going to get back to you. i'm joined now by the spokesman for the israel defense forces, lieutenant colonel peter
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learner. how big is this ground operation? >> we've amassed over the last ten days substantial force, entrymen, armored corps, artillery engineers all to put together with our intelligence capabilities in order to bring the fight to the hamas terrorists. in the early hours of the morning we met 13 terrorists that had boots on the ground. an unacceptable reality we're not willing to be prepared for a tunnel to serve from gaza to penetrate into israel and let them come into us. we've taken the battle to them. we won't let them do it again. they will be pursued. >> you released video of these 13 commandos coming out on the israeli side but then you went in and knocked them out according to the video. are you talking about hundreds of israeli ground forces in gaza right now, thousands of israeli
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ground forces? i know you're not going to give us a specific number. give us a ballpark number. >> it would go in the realm of thousands. indeed it is a substantial force on the ground. the reality that's developed over the last two years, the extents of the terrorist's infrastructure is that it was requiring us to be that forceful and be that proactive and meet the terrorists before they come into us. >> what is the goal? what is the end game right now? how long is this going to last? >> over the last ten days we've appealed three times to hamas to calm the situation down and deescalate the situation. that's all we wanted. we wanted a situation where our civilians with live in peace and quiet and not be u under the bombardment of rockets. 1,003 rockets launched at tel-av tel-aviv, all over the country. we're not willing to be held hostage by this group of terrorists that have no record
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for human life and are striking at us. >> is your goal to reoccupy gaza? >> not at all. we're determined to restore the state of security for the state of israel. we have no interest what's going to be in gaza as long as they're not attacking us. we have proven we are required to deal with the threat. it is a substantial threat. it and an unbearable threat and that's why our forces are on the ground. >> you assume this is going to go on for days. is that right? >> we need to be prepared for it to be prolonged. it's gradual motion. today this stage is moving up to the ground forces preliminary. you know, we've entered gaza in several points. there are other stages it can increase. >> the spokesman for the idf, thanks for joining us. let's get the palestinian side
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right now. you and i well know this was totally predictable how this would unfold. now the israelis not only from the air and the sea but on the ground they move into gaza. what's your reaction speaking on behalf of the palestinian authority? >> well, you know, i think this just adds to the complexities, adding fuel to the fire. this situation requires aerial bomb boardment, ground troops. tomorrow, we're going to turkey and then to cutter. and every effort was being exerted in order to see to it that we can have a timed ceasefire, mutual saes fire and then both sides can come to egypt in order to discuss the details. and we were moving on and we were going, you know, ahead with
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this. now with this ground attack, number one, you know, in 2008 israel was together. then in 2012 israel bomb boarded again. 2014, you know, people are getting more and more into the military situation. this needs number one, a deescalati deescalation, ceasefire by both parties in order to go to egypt for discussions. secondly we need to look at the bigger picture, a comprehensive setment. look, for the last 45 years what israel has done in the west bank, in gaza, demolished homes. lead to stability, peace and security or does this lead to
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more, you know, extremism and so on. they need a solution. i hope the israeli government will give the egyptains a chance. i believe if they continue with this ground assault they will add to the comiplexities. >> the iz rallies accepted the initial ceasefire, stopped firing into gaza for six hours. hamas rejected it. the palestinian authority president is there. is it too late now? can there be an egypt chan brokered ceasefire? >> absolutely. we managed to pull it ou, both
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sides for six hours. finished a meeting now. we can do it. we can still do it. so that's why we're urging all sides to give the egyptian effort a chance. if they want to continue the area bomb boardment and ground assaults, well this will only kill the initiative and add to the complexities. i don't think we can reach a solution through this military means. this requires deescalation by putting the egyptian initiative into a timed ceasefire, give it five days instead of six hours. all of the details in order to reach the ceasefire and then to begin a process that will end this situation.
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>> thanks very much. as usual we'll stay in very close to you, the chief palestinian negotiator. we're going to continue to monitor israel lease ground operation now under way in gaza. you heard the spokesman saying that thousands of israeli ground forces are on the ground in gaza. also we're watching the breaking new story the apparent downing of a malaysian airliner. ma what does this mean for the conflict in ukraine, the relationship of russia with europe. much more on these two breaking news stories coming up. ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] if you can't stand the heat, get off the test track. get the mercedes-benz you've been burning for at the summer event, going on now at your authorized mercedes-benz dealer.
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we're watching two breaking news stories. i'm wolf blitzer reporting from jerusalem. the israeli military moved thousands of ground forces into gaza right now. another huge breaking story an malaysian airliner flight flying over eastern ukraine was apparently shot down by a surface-to-air missile, 295 people on board. freelance journalist noah snyder is at the crash site. he's going us now. tell us what happened. what you're seeing over there and what you know about this horrible takedown. >> reporter: thanks for having me. you know, essentially we all arrived here late in the afternoon, early evening. the plane had already been crashed and been smoldering for a few hours. you drive up and there's sort of
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a long road running between two open fields. and the debris from the plane is scattered throughout the fields. so both the carcass of the plane itself but also the bodies of all of the people who were inside, their things, pretty much anything you would find from someone on their way to a beach va caution, sandals, toothpaste, shorts, swimming trunks and it's all basically scattered throughout these fields. people here say that the plane exploded in the sky and rained down. they thought they were being bombed. there's been pretty frequent shelling going on in surrounding cities, clashes between the ukrainian forces and rebel separatists here in earn ukraine and the locals thought that was coming to their village. this is a small country side town where nothing has happened in the last 30 years.
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and they're now faced with the wreckage and i think everyone here, from their emergency responders to the separatist fighters to the locals are in shock. >> i take it, noah, the wreckage, the bodies are scattered over a wide area. has this area been secured? are authorities in place watching what's going on or are people just walking around doing what they want to do? >> reporter: no. there's two large groups at least that i've seen of rebel fighters that arrived rather quickly. the extent to which they've secured it is more difficult to say. like i said, the fields are pretty wide, a few kilometers at least. and it's now pretty dark. so nobody is guide, the entire
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perimeter, i don't think. there's local responders were firefighters that have set up camp and appear to be staying through the night. the separatist fights have promised to guard the place. what that means none of us really know. i haven't seen anyone picking through the, picking through the rubble, so to speak. locals are staying in their homes for the most part. i don't think it's really crossed anyone's mind to mess with things. >> noah, i know this is a horrible situation. thank you so much for that eyewitness account of what's happening at this scene. i want you to stand by because i want to go to the white house right now. our senior white house correspondent is getting new information on what president obama, the administration are up to as far as this horrible, horrible takedown of this malaysian yet liner. what are you learning?
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>> reporter: unusual day at the white house with all of these global crises unfolds. the president is in new york right now for some fundraisers. but i can tell you upon landing in new york city, the president held a couple of conference calls. the first call was with his secretary of state, john kerry, to talk about not only the downing of the plane but also the situation in gaza. then after that phone call, he convened a separate conference call with his national security team, the cia directors, chief of staff and other top officials about what's going on with the plane crash. the president directing his team to have the firm understanding that there is to be an international investigation at the site of this plane crash. wolf, these calls, just two of many phone call. there's a video of john kerry leaving the white house. i think most notably the phone call with poroshenko, where the president expressed some concern about the integrity of the crash scene there in ukraine, wolf.
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>> yeah. looks like that crash scene, we just heard from the freelance journalist, noah snyder, obviously is awful right now. jim, stand by. the downing of the malaysian jet is adding a lot more strains right now to the already tense relationship between washington and moscow. our foreign affairs correspondent is over at the state department. elise what are you hearing there, this happening a day after the president announced tighter sanctions against russia. >> reporter: that's right and president putin responded saying that's going to push u.s.-russian relations to a dead end. clearly that already raw situation is going to be exasser bated. officials are telling me, you can't envy this national security team, wolf. so many world crises, they're
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trying to identify americans that might have been on board. so far none yet but clearly that's a concern. you have this ground invasion of gaza. all hand on deck at the state department opand certainly the days ahead will be a key factor. >> just when you think all of these international crises out there can't get worse, our national security analyst bob baer. jill do huugherty and a retiredr force brigadier air force. quick question, israel is always concerned about surface-to-air missiles taking down commercial aircraft. how difficult would it be to take down a plane, a boeing 777 flying at 35,000 feet? >> it's very easy. a sitting duck target for such a system. this is, for example, one of the
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reasons that we've blocked transforming this kind of weapons system from syria to the hezbollah. they tried to move it to the hezbollah and we stopped it. this is a very, very easy target. >> so you're saying that you have evidence, what, that iran was sending a similar kind of surface-to-air missile to hezbollah in lebanon that could take down israeli and other commercial aircraft flying over israeli air space? >> the syrians have such systems, when the fight started in syria. >> the syrians do, not iran. the syrians. >> no, no. the syrians. and tried to move such system to the hezbollah in lebanon. and according to international sources we blocked this transforming of this systems. >> the international reports suggest that israel went in and blew up these facilities? >> yeah. this is not a system that we'll allow. >> general, stand by. we want to take a quick break.
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fighting it out who's responsible. jill dougherty is joining us, our former foreign correspondent. you spent years covering this part of the world. russian president vladimir putin said this wouldn't have happened if the ukrainians wouldn't have renewed their military operation against pro russian separatists in eastern ukraine. what do you make of the reaction to this crisis from putin? >> well that reaction is really shocking because, actually, if you look at it, who did this? who carried it out? apparently at this point -- and there's a lot unknown -- it would appear the most logical explanation is that there were rebels, these separatists, who got their hands some way on these weapons. and its serious weapons. this is not something that one person can shoot. you need a team and they have to be trained. so already you're upping the ante in terms of the weapons that either have been taken by these rebels or have been provided to these rebels, and i
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think it's very serious for the relationship, the practically nonexistent relationship between russia and the united states right now. complete lack of any type of trust now that you have this incident. >> bob baer used to work at the cia. you have a good appreciation of what's going on. i assume the investigators, whoever they may be, they'll be able to quickly determine the surface-to-air missile or missiles that were involved. they'll be able to determine where they came from, right? >> oh, absolutely, wolf. i think they'll be able to look at satellite photography and see that these missiles came from russia and where they were. they're identifiable by overhead. they'll know whether it was fired, fairly quickly, from eastern ukraine or russia. the question is, you know, where does the conflict go from here? i don't see putin giving up the
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eastern ukraine or standing down. i mean, this is the nearer broad for him, he created this conflict. he's going to deny he had anything to do with shooting down that malay airliner. this could worsen it very quickly. >> and jill, as you know and you've spent a lot of time in russia, you were our correspondent there for many years. the u.s./russian relationship right now is awful. and i suspect it's about to get a whole lot worse, right? >> i would absolutely agree, wolf. you know one of the real problems is that there is a lot of kind of -- let's call it serendipity in what is going on right now. unpredictable things that come and blindside events. each side now, the united states and russia certainly very much is saying, no, it's actually on purpose. this is being done with a purpose, and that is very dangerous because, of course, it
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diminishes any type of trust and also makes it look as if these things are happening for a reason. right now you have a situation that could be simply a result of the chaos, unfortunately, right in that area. a lot of heavy fighting. the lack of clarity about what kind of weapons russia is providing to the rebels, what the rebels are capable of. the rebels who are doing things on their own. that's another possibility that if they have those weapons, they could be doing it on their own. this is out of control. and i absolutely agree that this could get much worse. >> jill dougherty, thanks very much. bob baer, thanks very much to you as well. a huge, huge crisis unfolding in ukraine right now. also the breaking news we've been following from here in the middle east. israel has now deployed, has moved thousands of its ground forces into gaza. stay with us. stay with cnn for complete breaking news coverage.
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in the meantime, thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." erin burnett "out front" continues our coverage right now. >> next, two major breaking news stories we're following tonight. another malaysia airlines plane goes down. this one shot down with nearly 300 on board. who is behind the attack? and israel launches a major ground offensive into the gaza strip. we're live there tonight. let's go "outfront." good evening, everyone. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight breaking news, shot down. a malaysian airline boeg 777 downed by a surface-to-air missile. there are no survivors. malaysia airlines flight 17 was at cruising altitude near